Racism, Stereotyping Killed Aboriginal Man in Canada Who Died During 34-hr ER Wait in 2008 – Inquest
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | June 13, 2014 4:59 PM EST
Racism and stereotyping have been the major contributing factors that led to the untimely death in 2008 of Brian Sinclair, an aboriginal man, at the emergency room at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. In fact, the failure of the medical staff to attend to the homeless, double-amputee was tantamount to homicide, the lawyer for the Sinclair family said during closing submissions at an inquest in Winnipeg.
Although the Manitoba Nurses' Union reminded the inquest judge Sinclair's death was ruled natural, Vilko Zbogar, Sinclair's family's lawyer, said the human factors contributed to the man's death. "It was a human failing. It was not just something with a mechanical system."
"If you don't give food to a person they will die," Winnipeg Free Press quoted Zbogar telling provincial court Judge Tim Preston. "If you don't give medical treatment to a person who is sick they will die."
"The inquest should make a verdict this death was a homicide."
A 45-year-old double amputee, Sinclair died in September 2008 after waiting 34 long hours in the Health Sciences Centre emergency department. He had to have his catheter changed, but unfortunately died without receiving treatment from an altogether easily treatable bladder infection.
A number of staff who saw Sinclair told the inquest they thought he was intoxicated and just "sleeping it off." Others thought he was homeless and just sought shelter at the hospital.
"These (conclusions) were all reached without anyone talking to Mr. Sinclair," Winnipeg Sun quoted Sinclair family co-counsel Murray Trachtenberg.
"It caused medical staff, who had the responsibility to intervene and provide Mr. Sinclair with the care he needed, not to do so."
Arlene Wilgosh of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority believed racism and stereotyping may have been factors, but there could be more complex issues than that.
"Mr. Sinclair should not have died in our emergency department," CTV News quoted Wilgosh.
All throughout the entire 34-hour waiting time, Sinclair was seen just sitting in his wheelchair until he was discovered dead.
"We're talking about negative stereotyping - stereotyping that led to numerous assumptions being made, all of which significantly contributed to Mr. Sinclair's death," Tratchenberg said.
The inquest judge is given six months to release a report with conclusions and recommendations.
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